Hello all! Today we are continuing our crusades series. Speaking of starting over, I wanted to say sorry for not being as consistent with my blog recently- I try to publish a post every Sunday (something to cheer people up as they face the impeding doom that is the workweek) but recently I have been otherwise occupied so I haven’t written a lot. I am trying to get back on track, and so today I am going to do a write-a-thon to catch up. Then I will continue my once a week deal. Anyways, the show must go on, so let’s introduce the latest crusaders!
Now, you may think that the Crusades were over after that last embarrassing chapter, but no, it only re-invigorated the crusaders. Anyways, soon they were recruiting a new army to take the holy land. But, this time it was clear to them that they needed an actual professional army and real commanders so they began training and armoring soldiers and finding nobles and generals to lead them. Eventually 5 leaders were chosen. Hugh of Vermandois, Godfrey of Bouillon, Bohemond of Taranto, Raymond of Toulouse, and Robert of Flanders. They all had different backgrounds and different goals, but they all wanted to fight the Turks. So they set off, by various routes, to the holy land.
See, there are basically two ways to get to the Levant from France (where they were coming from): By land and by sea.
All of the crusaders took the land route but one who did a little sailing. it just seems way easier too me to sail all the way. It’s faster, easier, does not require any marching, meaning your soldiers need less energy, meaning you can bring less rations. All of this also makes it cheaper. Of course, you need to construct boats but the price of making transports is probably much less than that of buying all the pack animas, preservable food, equipment, and money to pay off local governors so your army can camp outside their city.
Regardless, the Crusaders eventually arrived in modern-day Greece. This was at the time ruled by the Byzantines who were the last remnant of the Roman empire. They said they would grant the Crusaders passage through their lands and even provide them with ships to cross the river which runs through Istanbul and divides Europe from Turkey. But this was all on one condition. Any territories they captured from the Turks that used to be Byzantine lands they would have to give back to the Byzantines. Most of the Crusaders reluctantly agreed but one found a loophole he would exploit later.
They eventually arrived in Turkey and fought in numerous battles and seiges against the Turkish defenders. The Turks fought pretty dirty, killing Crusaders in the night and destroying wells. The Crusaders took this as “Oh, so we are fighting dirty.” They then began to commit some of the worst atrocities ever committed by anyone ever. But I am not going to leave out parts of the story just because they are bad-if you wrote a book about WW2 you wouldn’t leave out the Holocaust. This is an important factor of history, because if bad things are forgotten they may be repeated.
If you are a child reading or an adult showing this to you kid, I suggest you skip this paragraph- it is not very important to the story and quite gruesome but if you really want to know everything about the crusade you should read it. The crusaders ravaged through Turkey and the Levant, committing crimes of inexplicable horror which, by the way, are all heinous and unforgivable crimes in their religion which they were fighting for. This included cannibalising entire cities, throwing infants and toddlers into bonfires, and slaughtering entire cities. They then promptly forgot this ever happened and continued on their journey.
After that horrid chapter, the Crusaders continued marching. By the way, because of a small miscommunication, the Crusaders had severed their ties with the Byzantines and began taking the land for themselves. Because of this they had each been setting up their own “Crusader States” in the cities and castles they took. When they finally arrived in Jerusalem, many wept and kissed the ground. After traveling across what seemed like the world to them, they were finally here, their holy city. They immediately besieged the city. The first attack, made by Raymond of Toulouse failed. But Godfrey of Bouillon had a plan. He had another noble, Tancrid, help him. They set up their siege tower in front of one of the walls and the Turks moved to defend it. But that night while the Turks slept they completely disassembled their siege tower and rebuilt facing a different part of the wall. The next day the Turks woke up and they were being assaulted on a completely different segment of the wall! Pretty smart if you ask me.
What was not smart was what they did when they finally took the city. It far exceeded any of their previous acts in depraved cruelty. They slaughtered all of the city’s Muslim inhabitants, and sources say so many were killed that day that the soldiers were wading knee deep in blood. When the Jews retreated to the synagogue to pray, the crusader were said to have lit the synagogue on fire so that they were burned alive. It was truly a terrible act, and even the most violent of the leaders were disgusted at what they saw. Eventually the massacre ended, and the Crusaders strived to set up their own kingdoms. They did, and these kingdoms would last….. for a while. As I am doing a write-a-thon today, come back in a few hours and you will get another post!